Label/Year: self-produced, 2017
Lineup - Michael Cabe: piano; Mark Lau: bass; Ernesto Cervini: drums.
MEM3 is a contemporary piano-bass-trio formation composed of American pianist Michael Cabe (Duchess), Australian bassist Mark Lau, and Canadian drummer Ernesto Cervini (Myriad3, Turboprop), whose musical and personal friendship lasts for 13 years now.
The band assumes influences by The Bad Plus, Peter Erskine Trio, and the late Swedish pianist Esbjorn Svensson, who has a song dedicated to him on this recording.
Circles, their sophomore album, is an ambitious follow-up to Pennsylvania Grey released in 2008.
The opening tune, “Centrical”, meshes dream-pop and rock music with poise. The band reserves an intermediate section to set a different groove, where Cabe doesn’t squander the chance to demonstrate his improvisational creativity.
Cabe’s “Native Dancer” is also rhythmically daring, interspersing busy rock passages with other quieter and tuneful. Motivated by Cervini’s brush technique and Lau’s bass groove, Cabe resorts to interesting rhythmic figures to adorn his solo. An energetic piano riff, proper for a guitar-driven metal band, allows Cervini to set his drums on fire.
Breaking the current, the title track takes us to the realms of electronic music through piano phrases played in a loop, synth sounds, and syncopated backbeats. Its ecstasy finds abatement with “Quiescent”, a ballad that features an expressive bass solo by Lau. Confident, he delivers again in “Shire Song”, a beautiful waltz whose lavish climax is attained with a conclusive vamp.
The threesome doesn’t vacillate when rhythmic complexities go their way, like in the progressive “Olympic”, a fertile piece in terms of variations and subtleties. Cabe’s pianistic tact, Lau’s steady pedal, and Cervini’s nimble drum fills contribute to thickening up the sonic layers by the end.
The drummer’s “4ES (for Esbjorn Svensson)”, also held by a bass pedal, has an atmospheric start where piano and xylophone notes overlap. Eventually, Cable’s piano takes the control until a weighty rock pulse drives the way, pushing us into a vigorous odd-meter groove.
Moving effortlessly between styles, MEM3 allows Circles to thrive with an exciting sound that mirrors the favorable sense of cohesiveness that reigns among the trio members.
02 – Native Dancer ► 05 – Shire Song ► 09 – 4ES